There are many seasons of life that can feel a little like we are living in the wilderness. Perhaps it is circumstances that we just do not understand or disappointments and pain, suffering and hope deferred.
There's a sense in which the church is living in wilderness years. We have been redeemed, our Saviour has paid the greatest price in order to bring us back into relationship with God and we await the hope of heaven. But we are living in a land that is not our own and we face the same struggles and temptations as did the Israelites.
Life is hard. Suffering is a daily reality. Yet the God of the Universe promises that he is with us and one day he will return and all pain and suffering will end.
How do we live with this truth in view? I've been convicted recently of my tendency to grumble – like the Israelites, I fail to fully trust that God is sovereign over every circumstance and to believe God is working out his good purposes even when it doesn't look like it.
I live in one of the most deprived areas of the UK and I long to see God move and bring salvation in my community, but gospel ministry here is hard, slow and costly. There's a danger that as I seek to hold out the hope of the gospel I grumble because God isn't working in the way I think he should.
Reading Philippians, I am humbled to think that all is God's work. My deprived community belongs to him and it is he who 'works in us to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purposes' (Philippians 2:13). Our God is trustworthy.
As we fully trust the God who left heaven, making himself nothing, humbling himself and becoming obedient even to death, we too can be humble before God.
It is in this humble trust that we are truly able to be 'children of God without fault in a warped and generation, shining among them like stars in the sky' (Philippians 2:14-15).
It blew me away to realise that grumbling impacts the church's evangelism! It is as we trust God, the source of all our needs, who knows the end from the beginning, and as live in that humble surrender to him, that we show the world a different way to live. We point to Jesus as our sustainer and as the giver of life and hope.
Lizzie Bassford is a wife, mum and missionary living in inner-city Manchester. Follow her on Twitter @captivated01.